Monthly Archives: May 2020

IBM confirms layoffs are happening, but won’t provide details

May 23, 2020 No Comments

IBM confirmed reports from overnight that it is conducting layoffs, but wouldn’t provide details related to location, departments or number of employees involved. The company framed it in terms of replacing people with more needed skills as it tries to regroup under new CEO Arvind Krishna.

IBM’s work in a highly competitive marketplace requires flexibility to constantly remix to high-value skills, and our workforce decisions are made in the long-term interests of our business,” an IBM spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, says he’s hearing the layoffs are hitting across the business. “I’m hearing it’s a balancing act between business units. IBM is moving as many resources as it can to the cloud. Essentially, you lay off some of the people without the skills you need and who can’t be re-educated and you bring in people with certain skill sets. So not a net reduction in headcount,” Moorhead said.

It’s worth noting that IBM used a similar argument back in 2015 when it reportedly had layoffs. While there is no official number, Bloomberg is reporting that today’s number is in the thousands.

Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research, says that IBM is in a tough spot. “The bets of the past have not paid off. IBM Cloud as IaaS is gone, Watson did not deliver and Blockchain is too slow to keep thousands of consultants occupied,” he said.

Mueller adds that the company could also be feeling the impact of having workers at home instead of in the field. “Enterprises do not know and have not learnt how to do large software projects remotely. […] And for now enterprises are slowing down on projects as they are busy with reopening plans,” he said.

The news comes against the backdrop of companies large and small laying off large numbers of employees as the pandemic takes its toll on the workforce. IBM was probably due for a workforce reduction, regardless of the current macro situation, as Krishna tries to right the financial ship.

The company has struggled in recent years, and with the acquisition of Red Hat for $ 34 billion in 2018, it is hoping to find its way as a more open hybrid cloud option. It apparently wants to focus on skills that can help them get there.

The company indicated that it would continue to subsidize medical expenses for laid off employees through June 2021, so there is that.

Enterprise – TechCrunch

How Twitter is contributing to support masses during the Coronavirus outbreak

May 23, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • When it’s about spreading information, social media platforms are the biggest medium.
  • As search and social giants are providing special measures, this article takes a look at what Twitter has done to support people around the globe during these testing times.
  • Twitter condemned any spread of misleading information on its platform.
  • Twitter further donated a million dollars to support journalism during the pandemic.
  • More details on all these and a list of reliable Twitter accounts you can follow for accurate information.

The Coronavirus pandemic has created some unusual times and as we know unusual times call for extraordinary measures. As search and social giants are providing special measures, this article takes a look at what Twitter has done to support people around the globe during these testing times.

The role of social media during the pandemic

Social media platforms account to entertain almost 4.6 billion people from all around the world. The leading platforms Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are among the top contributor to creating a well-connected platform for active users. News and updates spread within second on these platforms reaching to millions, fastest than the one broadcasted through television channels. So, when it’s about spreading information, social media platforms are the biggest medium.  

At present, every single platform is making their efforts to creating the safest channel to spread information and to soothe the people down while guiding them about the havocs of the pandemic and ways through which they can save themselves. In this struggle, let’s discuss the role of Twitter, one of the most crowded social media platforms. 

How Twitter is taking care of its users

Twitter is a free platform to socialize. With the use of hashtags and a seamless interface, users are connected with each other despite the region they belong to. During the first three months of 2020, active users on Twitter maximized which reflects its authenticity and positioning among the active social media users. In fact, Twitter ad engagement is up 23%.

With the onset of the pandemic, social media platforms have to face a number of accusations. One of the most important accusations was the spread of false information. 

Banned misinformation from the platform

Twitter condemned any spread of misleading information on its platform. As the platform entertains millions of users, the spread of misinformation was creating panic among the users and misleading them regarding the seriousness of the Pandemic. At last, the microblogging platform got updated and any information that was verified as false or manipulative gets instantly deleted. Much like Facebook, the platform began to promote information by verifying it from credible sources. Whether it’s about the global healthcare spending statistic or the count of infected patients around the world, the accurate numbers began to spread. 

Twitter tweet

Source: Twitter Safety Status

Among the prominent aspects been observed to banning the content involved untrue information about the affected ones, reasons that triggered the virus claims about specific religious groups or communities getting prone to the disease, racism, and discrimination. Anything related to these aspects gets deleted and banned in an instant. 

Apart from this, Twitter authorities also informed about efforts being taken to automate the removal of abusive and manipulated posts. With the help of machine learning, the platform gets scrutinize and any content that can cause harm to an individual gets restricted to share or post. In the following words, the authorities made their claim about the updates, “As we’ve said on many occasions, our approach to protecting the public conversation is never static. That’s particularly relevant in these unprecedented times. We intend to review our thinking daily and will ensure we’re sharing updates here on any new clarifications to our rules or major changes to how we’re enforcing them,” 

Twitter Donates a million dollars to support journalism during the pandemic

Just when the news about banning misleading information on Twitter was making the headlines, Twitter released a new update about its contribution. The platform is donating a million dollars to two organizations The International Women’s Media Foundation and the Committee to Protect Journalists to report authentic news about the COVID-19 pandemic. It proves to be a great step in keeping the world safe from the pandemic any guiding more and more people about ways to prevent getting affected. The journalist will shed light on all the stories that can prove to be helpful in fighting the outbreak. 

As journalists are playing a major role in getting into the government and healthcare sectors and scooping out authentic and rich information about the Coronavirus, it’s imperative to appreciate and help them. Journalists all around the world are among the front line warriors to defeat the pandemic and making it easier for people like us to get the updates. Considering their efforts, Twitter stepped forward to support them and help them in gathering news more efficiently 

Best Twitter accounts to follow during the pandemic

Twitter can help you out in many ways to overcome the stress of the isolation or to pas days of being quarantined. To those who are looking for authentic accounts to grab information and updated about the pandemic, they must follow the below-listed accounts.  

The accounts of Dr. Sylvie Briandand of Dr. Kate Lovett who share the most authentic updates about the pandemic and steps to prevent it. 

Twitter accounts to follow during pandemic

If you want to seek professional advice about the common health issues you are experiencing you can get the updates from the account of David Juurlink. He explains and talks about the symptoms and ways to prevent them. 

Apart from all of these accounts, the organizations are also contributing to connecting with the people. You can also opt for the U.S. FDA Twitter handle.

Twitter accounts to follow US NDA

If you want to kill your time, you can find some great entertaining accounts as well. Like the one of Tret Andrew who is literally sharing his day’s updates with the followers connecting with them after every few hours. Or you can tune in to the house party session of Z THE DOM and stir more fun to your day.  

Wrap up  

Whether it’s about Twitter or any other platform, efforts are being made to prevent the Coronavirus outbreak and guide people to stay calm and prepared to handle any healthcare urgency. With such unparalleled efforts of every platform and organization, the world will soon be free from the havocs of this COVID-19 pandemic.  

The post How Twitter is contributing to support masses during the Coronavirus outbreak appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch

Job Search Engine Using Occupation Vectors

May 23, 2020 No Comments

I worked for the Courts of Delaware at Superior Court.

I started working there as the Assistant Criminal Deputy Prothonotary.

I changed positions after 7 years there, and I became a Mini/Micro Computer Network Administrator.

The Court used an old English title for that first position which meant that I supervised Court Clerks in the Criminal Department of the Court. In the second position, I never ever saw a mini/micro-computer but it was a much more technical position. I was reminded of those titles when writing this post.

What unusual job titles might you have held in the past?

A Job Search Engine Based on Occupation Vectors and a Job Identification Model

An Example of Job Search at Google:

job search example

For a two week period, Google was granted patents with the same name each of those 2 weeks. This is the first of the two patents during that period granted under the name “Search Engine.”

It is about a specific type of search engine. One that focuses upon a specific search vertical – A Job Search Engine.

The second patent granted under the name “Search Engine,” was one that focused upon indexing data related to applications on mobile devices. I wrote about it in the post A Native Application Vertical Search Engine at Google

The reason why I find it important to learn about and understand how these new “Search Engine” patents work is that they adopt some newer approaches to answering searches than some of the previous vertical search engines developed by Google. Understanding how they work may provide some ideas about how older searches at Google may have changed.

This Job Search Engine patent works with a job identification model to enhance job search by improving the quality of search results in response to a job search query.

We are told that the job identification model can identify relevant job postings that could otherwise go unnoticed by conventional algorithms due to inherent limitations of keyword-based searching. What implications does this have for organic search at Google that has focused upon keyword search?

This job search may use methods in addition to conventional keyword-based searching. It uses an identification model that can identify relevant job postings which include job titles that do not match the keywords of a received job search query.

So, the patent tells us that in a query using the words “Patent Guru,” the job identification model may identify postings related to a:

  • “Patent Attorney”
  • “Intellectual Property Attorney”
  • “Attorney”
  • the like

The method behind job searching may include (remember the word “vector.” It is one I am seeing from Google a lot lately):

  • Defining a vector vocabulary
  • Defining an occupation taxonomy includings multiple different occupations
  • Obtaining multiple labeled training data items, wherein each labeled training data item is associated with at least:
    • (i) a job title
    • (ii) an occupation
  • Generating an occupation vector which includes a feature weight for each respective term in the vector vocabulary
  • Associating each respective occupation vector with an occupation in the occupation taxonomy based on the occupation of the labeled training data item used to generate the occupation vector
  • Receiving a search query that includes a string related to a characteristic of one or more potential job opportunities, generating a first vector based on the received query
  • Determining, for each respective occupation of the multiple occupations in the occupation taxonomy, a confidence score that is indicative of whether the query vector is correctly classified in the respective occupation
  • Selecting the particular occupation that is associated with the highest confidence score
  • Obtaining one or more job postings using the selected occupation
  • Providing the obtained job postings in a set of search results in response to the search query

These operations may include:

  • Receiving a search query that includes a string related to a characteristic of one or more job opportunities
  • Generating, based on the query, a query vector that includes a feature weight for each respective term in a predetermined vector vocabulary
  • Determining, for each respective occupation of the multiple occupations in the occupation taxonomy, a confidence score that is indicative of whether the query vector is correctly classified in the respective occupation
  • Selecting the particular occupation that is associated with the highest confidence score
  • Obtaining one or more job postings using the selected occupation, and providing the obtained job postings in a set of search results in response to the search query
  • Feature Weights for Terms in Vector Vocabularies

    It sounds like Google is trying to understand job position titles and how they may be connected with each other, and developing a vector vocabulary, and build ontologies of related positions

    A feature weight may be based on:

    • A term frequency determined on a number of occurrences of each term in the job title of the training data item
    • An inverse occupation frequency that is determined based on a number of occupations in the occupation taxonomy where each respective term in the job title of the respective training data item is present.
    • An occupation derivative based on a density of each respective term in the job title of the respective training data item across each of the respective occupations in the occupation taxonomy
    • Both (i) a second value representing the inverse occupation frequency that is determined based, at least in part, on a number of occupations in the occupation taxonomy where each respective term in the job title of the respective training data item is present and (ii) a third value representing an occupation derivative that is based, at least in part, on a density of each respective term in the job title of the respective training data item across each of the respective occupations in the occupation taxonomy
    • A sum of (i) the second value representing the inverse occupation frequency, and (ii) one-third of the third value representing the occupation derivative

    The predetermined vector vocabulary may include terms that are present in training data items stored in a text corpus and terms that are not present in at least one training data item stored in the text corpus.

    This Job Search Engine Patent can be found at:

    Search engine
    Inventors: Ye Tian, Seyed Reza Mir Ghaderi, Xuejun Tao), Matthew Courtney, Pei-Chun Chen, and Christian Posse
    Assignee: Google LLC
    US Patent: 10,643,183
    Granted: May 5, 2020
    Filed: October 18, 2016


    Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs encoded on storage devices, for performing a job opportunity search. In one aspect, a system includes a data processing apparatus, and a computer-readable storage device having stored thereon instructions that, when executed by the data processing apparatus, cause the data processing apparatus to perform operations.

    The operations include defining a vector vocabulary, defining an occupation taxonomy that includes multiple different occupations, obtaining multiple labeled training data items, wherein each labeled training data item is associated with at least (i) a job title, and (ii) an occupation, generating, for each of the respective labeled training data items, an occupation vector that includes a feature weight for each respective term in the vector vocabulary and associating each respective occupation vector with an occupation in the occupation taxonomy based on the occupation of the labeled training data item used to generate the occupation vector.

    The Job Identification Model

    Job identification model

    Job postings from many different sources may be related to one or more occupations.

    An occupation may include a particular category that encompasses one or more job titles that describe the same profession.

    Two or more of the obtained job postings may be related to the same, or substantially similar, occupation while using different terminology to describe a job title for each of the two or more particular job postings.

    Such differences in the terminology used to describe a particular job title of a job posting may arise for a variety of different reasons:

    • Different people from different employers draft each respective job posting
    • Unique job titles may be based on the culture of the employer’s company, the employer’s marketing strategy, or the like

    occupation taxonomy

    How an Job Identification Model May Work

    An example:

    1. At a first hair salon marketed as a rugged barbershop, advertises a job posting for a “barber”
    2. At a second hair salon marketed as a trendy beauty salon, advertises a job posting for a “stylist”
    3. At both, the job posting seeks a person for the occupation of a “hairdresser” who cuts and styles hair
    4. In a search system limited to keyword-based searching, a searcher seeking job opportunities for a “hairdresser” searchings for job opportunities using the term “barber” may not receive available job postings for a “stylist,” “hairdresser,” or the like if those job postings do not include the term “barber”
    5. The process in this patent uses a job identification model seeking to address this problem

    The job occupation model includes:

    • A classification unit
    • An occupation taxonomy

    The occupation taxonomy associates known job titles from existing job posts with one or more particular occupations.

    During training, the job identification model associates each occupation vector that was generated for an obtained job posting with an occupation in the occupation taxonomy.

    The classification unit may receive the search query and generate a query vector.

    The classification unit may access the occupation taxonomy and calculate, for each particular occupation in the occupation taxonomy, a confidence score that is indicative of the likelihood that the query vector is properly classified into each particular occupation of the multiple occupations in the occupation taxonomy.

    Then, the classification unit may select the occupation associated with the highest confidence score as the occupation that is related to the query vector and provide the selected occupation to the job identification model.

    An Example of a Search Under this Job Opportunities Search Engine:

    1. A searcher queries “Software Guru” into a search box
    2. The search query may be received by the job identification model
    3. The job identification model provides an input to the classification unit including the query
    4. The classification unit generates a query vector
    5. The classification unit analyzes the query vector in view of the one or more occupation vectors that were generated and associated with each particular occupation in the occupation taxonomy such as occupation vectors
    6. The classification unit may then determine that the query vector is associated with a particular occupation based on a calculated confidence score, and select the particular occupation
    7. The job identification model may receive the particular occupation from the classification unit
    8. Alternatively, or in addition, the output from the classification unit may include a confidence score that indicates the likelihood that the query vector is related to the occupation output by the occupation taxonomy
    9. The occupation output from the occupation taxonomy can be used to retrieve relevant job postings
    10. Specifically, given the output of a particular occupation, the job identification model can retrieve one or more job postings using a job posting index that stores references to job postings based on occupation type

    11. The references to job postings that were identified using the job posting index are returned to the user device
    12. The obtained references to job postings may be displayed on the graphical user interface
    13. The obtained references to job postings may be presented as search results and include references to job postings for a “Senior Programmer,” a “Software Engineer,” a “Software Ninja,” or the like
    14. The job postings included in the search results were determined to be responsive to the search query “Software Guru” based at least in part on the vector analysis of the query vector and one or more occupation vectors used to train the occupation taxonomy and not merely based on keyword searching alone

    Takeaways About this Job Search Engine

    In addition to the details about, the patent tells us how an occupation taxonomy may be trained, using training data. It also provides more details about the Job identification model. And then tells us about how a job search is performed using that job identification model.

    I mentioned above that this job search engine patent and the application search engine patent are using methods that we may see in other search verticals at Google. I have written about one approach that could be used in Organic search in the post Google Using Website Representation Vectors to Classify with Expertise and Authority

    Another one of those may involve image searching at Google. I’ve written about Google Image Search Labels Becoming More Semantic?

    I will be posting more soon about how Google Image search is using neural networks to categorize and cluster Images to return in search results.

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    SEO by the Sea ⚓

    Facebook makes big remote work moves with plan for new hubs in Dallas, Denver and Atlanta

    May 21, 2020 No Comments

    In a live-streamed town hall, Mark Zuckerberg gave an overview for what he expects in the near future as Facebook pursues accommodations to keep workers productive and safe during the COVID-19 crisis. The move comes as large tech companies reassess the viability of their iconic Silicon Valley campuses, now empty as the pandemic keeps most employees at home.

    Part of Zuckerberg’s vision, announced Thursday, includes the surprise announcement that Facebook will be setting up new company hubs in Denver, Dallas and Atlanta. Zuckerberg also noted that Facebook will focus on finding new hires in areas near its existing offices, looking to cities like San Diego, Portland, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The Facebook CEO estimated that over the course of the next decade, half of the company could be working fully remotely.

    Zuckerberg also elaborated on what kinds of roles would and would not be eligible for all-remote work, noting that positions in divisions like hardware development, data centers, recruiting, policy and partnerships would not be able to shift away from a physical office due to their need for proximity.

    “When you limit hiring to people who live in a small number of big cities, or are willing to move there, that cuts out a lot of people who live in different communities, have different backgrounds, have different perspectives,” Zuckerberg said.

    For Menlo Park employees looking for greener pastures, there’s one sizable catch. Starting on January 1 of next year, the company will localize all salaries, scaling compensation to the cost of living in the enclaves Facebook employees may soon find themselves scattered to.

    Social – TechCrunch

    The Hypocrisy of Mike Pompeo

    May 21, 2020 No Comments

    In the few short years since his time in Congress, the secretary of state has conveniently reversed himself on multiple fronts.
    Feed: All Latest

    Free resources to grow your business during lockdown

    May 21, 2020 No Comments

    30-second summary:

    • Lockdown and self-quarantine are causing consumers to spend more time online. 
    • To encourage growth, companies may need to pivot the way they interact with customers or the goods and services they supply as demands change. 
    • Organizations need to optimize their SEO strategy, website and online presence to stay relevant among competitors. 
    • Several free resources are available to analyze SEO and websites. You can use them to make changes and improvements so that during lockdown your business continues to grow. 

    The Coronavirus outbreak is changing life as we know it. As billions of people shelter in place, they’re spending even more time online. This is good and bad news for businesses. 

    The good news is that there are more consumers online, more of the time. The bad news is that they have time to be more discerning in their choices and that your rivals are looking to capitalize on this and grow their companies just as much as you are… 

    Getting ahead without crunching your pocket

    To ensure your business stays relevant in this strange new world, you’ll need to up your game. This involves interacting with customers in novel ways, creating attractive campaigns and special offers, and possibly pivoting the goods and services you offer to meet new consumer demands. 

    Digital marketing and SEO have always been cutthroat, and they’re even more so in the face of the COVID-19 lockdown. The changes that you make to your company – to ensure it survives and even thrives during this time – may mean that your current marketing strategies are no longer optimal. 

    With all that in mind, updating your organization’s website and general online presence is crucial. Reviewing and refreshing these should always be a regular habit, but as the world’s economy and demands are changing so much, it’s especially important right now.

    Luckily, there are several resources to help you with such updates. A lot of them cost money, but there are some excellent free options if you’re looking to cut back on expenses. Some of the top free tools that can perform tasks like checking if your pages are indexed by Google, analyzing onsite SEO efficiency, and evaluating content are listed below. 

    1. GTmetrix

    Search engines (Google included) are increasingly giving preferential treatment to sites that load content quickly and putting them higher in their search results. GTmetrix analyzes sites’ load speeds, identifying the specific features that make a site too big, too slow, and satisfactorily fast. It also supplies a list of practical suggestions for you to speed up your load times.  

    Enter a URL into the tool, and you’ll get a thorough report highlighting the areas that need improvement. 

    Free resources GTmetrix

    2. Linkody’s Free Google Index Checker 

    As a big part of your site’s health and growth is impacted by Google crawling it, you need to stay on top of indexing. With this free index checker, you can determine whether a specific page or an entire domain is indexed. All you need to do is enter your URL and Linkody alerts you about the current index status. Not indexed can indicate that Google hasn’t crawled a page or site yet, or that a page is considered low-quality or even worse, a site as a whole is de-indexed. Indexing problems happen to the best of us (looking at you, Linkedin) so a basic check should be part of your SEO routine. 

    Linkody's Google Index Checker free resources

    3. Ahrefs Academy’s: Blogging for Business 

    The video tutorials on Ahrefs Academy are informative and easy to understand, making them great resources. Blogging for Business is no exception, and includes sections on everything from basic principles of blogging to growing companies, to creating content that promotes itself. Scroll down the site and watch all of the short videos in order, or jump to the section you’re interested in. 

    4. Harmon Brothers University Script Challenge

    Marketing masterminds Harmon Brothers are offering a free resource, a 14-day Video Script Challenge, where they’ll give you everything you need to write a video script that will successfully sell a product or service. The step-by-step instructions are scalable so they can be implemented no matter how big business grows. 

    5. Shopify’s 90-Day free trial

    As part of Shopify’s COVID-19 response, the multinational ecommerce company is offering several informative free webinars and giving new clients a free 90-day trial of its services. Businesses can sign up and create their virtual stores in just a few minutes, complete with attractive themes and customizable responses. 

    6. Chrome’s SEO Ruler

    SEO Ruler is a free Chrome extension that provides over 25 tools in a single package. Link Tools, OnPage Copy Tools and SERP Page Tools help to maximize your SEO, while OnPage Viewer, Schema Viewer, and Quick Google options enhance user experiences so that they search for – and find – much more. 

    7. SEOAURA’s website responsive test

    Search engines have also started to prioritize websites that look good across all platforms, regardless of their orientation or size. In other words, if your site is equally attractive on desktop, tablets and smartphones, you’ll rank higher on the SERPs. 

    SEOAURA free resources

    Make sure your website’s looks and functionality are perfect on every device by putting it through the SEOAURA Website Responsive Test. If your site doesn’t pass muster, consider updating it yourself or consulting a professional designer. 

    8. SERPerator by MobileMoxie

    MobileMoxie offers a range of tools that enable companies to analyze their mobile websites and improve their traffic, which ultimately boosts revenue.  

    The tools can all be tried free for a period of seven days, and the SERPerator SERP test is available for five runs per day at no charge. Just enter the business details, the search term, the search engine and the phone language and run the SERP test for two mobile devices of your choice. 

    9. Free courses from Moz Academy

    Software as a Service (SaaS) giant Moz offers exceptional software and educational materials on SEO. Now you can access a lot of their online courses for free to help you take your marketing strategy to the next level. Until May 31, 2020, check out the full course content for Page Optimization, Backlink Basics, and all their other subjects, which usually retail for over $ 100 each. 

    10. Moz Local

    One of the top SEO products that Moz offers is its Moz Local, which helps companies check their local business listing, automate online deletions, and optimally manage their profiles in real time. Various plans are offered for different prices, but you can perform the simple task of checking business listings’ online presence by heading to the Moz Local page, selecting the Check My Online Presence button, and entering the company’s physical address. 

    11. Scout Suggest

    This keyword tool allows online marketers to find phrases, synonyms and modifiers for your keywords to use for any subject. Simply enter a keyword, select the region that you’re interested in, and run the tool to get a report with thousands of related terms, phrases and questions. You’ll also get N-grams which groups related keywords into clusters that make it easier to plan for your next content piece. 

    12. Calendly’s Virtual Meetings Integration

    Finally, to keep companies and marketing campaigns on track all involved stakeholders have to meet regularly. But these meetings don’t have to be physical, and at the moment they can’t be. Calendly offers free GoToMeeting and Zoom integrations until the end of June 2020. Everyone who works remotely can stay on track with projects and, just as importantly, connect with co-workers and clients too. 

    Closing thoughts

    As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, no one is sure what the final fallout will be. While waiting for the dust to settle, you might need to pivot your business several times if you want to continue its growth. Reviews of its SEO performance should be conducted whenever you make changes – and at regular intervals, as a matter of best practice.

    The post Free resources to grow your business during lockdown appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

    Search Engine Watch

    A Comprehensive Guide to Ad Testing

    May 20, 2020 No Comments

    Times have changed and so has the sophistication of ad testing. Here’s a list of things to take into consideration for your next ad test.

    Read more at PPCHero.com
    PPC Hero

    Maximizing local SEO: Five tactics to enhance visibility without breaking the bank

    May 20, 2020 No Comments

    30-second summary:

    • With Google frequently changing its search engine algorithm in recent times in a bid to reduce the organic reach of most businesses so they can invest more in Ads, what are the options left for your small business in this period?
    • According to GoGulf, 46% of all Google searches are of people searching for local information, and 86% of people look up the location of a business on Google Maps.
    • If Local SEO is that effective, what is it, and why should your business rely on it?
    • In this article, I will examine basic things that still work like adding your business to online directories, building backlinks, developing local content targeted at your local audience, incorporating titles and meta description tags, and the use of targeted keywords.

    SEO changes all the time. That’s why you need to update your SEO strategies regularly to remain visible. 

    According to this article, 72% of consumers visit a store within 5 miles after doing a local search. This shows how powerful local SEO can be. If you can make your business visible such that your business appears in the search results when a potential customer searches for a product and service, there is a 72% chance they’ll drop by your business.

    But what is local SEO? Local SEO involves the optimization of your online presence in order to improve your chances of being discovered by people who make local searches. Think of it as your traditional SEO, but with the inclusion of geography in it. In other words, it’s you trying to attract more business from local searches.

    In this article, you’ll learn five local SEO tactics that will help you skyrocket your visibility without breaking the bank. 

    1. Be strategic about your title and meta description tags

    When you search for something on Google’s search engine, you’ll see millions of results competing for your attention. The only way you can tell if the search result has what you’re looking for is the title and the description you see immediately after the title.

    Many business owners take the title of their blog posts and meta descriptions for granted. You need to start seeing the title and the description as a way you can “sell” your page to a potential visitor of your page. 

    A useful tool that will help you optimize your title and description is Yoast SEO. It’ll be able to test how good your title and description are. 

    Deliberately include the location of your business in your blog post titles. For example, let’s assume you sell wine and your potential client is looking for the best New York wine, you’d be doing yourself a great service by including the words “New York” in the title and the description.

    Local SEO example New York wine

    Source: Google Search

    2. Optimize your Google My Business account

    You know how you’ll search for a pizza place on your phone and Google will show you a list of pizza places near you? That’s made possible by using Google My Business. Google My Business (GMB) is a tool used to manage your online presence across Google, including Google Search and Google Maps.

    You’ll find it shocking that 56% of local businesses haven’t claimed their Google My Business listings. So don’t sleep on this tip.

    If you haven’t claimed your GMB listing then make sure you do so. But don’t just claim your GMB listing and forget all about it. Optimize your GMB by filling in your Google My Business Profile, choosing the relevant category, and including images. This will not only help your potential customer find you, but it will also give them some information about your business and thus influence their decision to stop by your business.

    3. Create local content

    According to GoGulf, 46% of all Google searches are of people searching for local information. So how do you harness that attention so as to get your target audience to know about your business?

    Creating local content that will be of interest to your target audience makes you the local authority for your industry. By local content, I mean the creation of content that is targeted to your local audience. This will require you to be strategic with keywords.

    So as a florist, instead of creating content on the best flowers to give your wife, think of the best flowers your customer can give their wife in Florida. That way you’re specifically addressing those in Florida and those who come across your article see you as the go-to florist in Florida. 

    4. Get inbound links to raise the domain authority

    As beneficial as it is to create local content for your own website, Moz revealed that link signals are an important local search ranking factor that will help enhance your visibility as shown in the diagram below. 

    Link signals include inbound anchor text, linking domain authority, and linking domain quantity. All this helps to raise the domain authority as this helps increase your local search rankings.  

    To improve your link signals you should also guest post local content on other websites as well. Create valuable local resources that your target audience will love.

    As you guest post and refer people to the blog on your business website, you’re acquiring inbound links to raise your domain authority. Those will help you with your SEO and increase your chances of being visible on Google when the people within your geographical location search for things related to your business. 

    5. Add your business to online directories

    Why stop at just adding your business on only one directory when there are so many directories out there. Adding your business to as many online directories (especially local ones) as you can possibly find will increase your chances of being found online. It will be time-consuming but it’s worth it. 

    Online business directories like Binge Places for Business, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Angie’s List, and Trip Advisor will make you more visible to those who need your services locally. And to add to that, getting listed on these sites will make you earn backlinks from them which will help build your domain authority and increase your ranking on Google’s Search Engine Result Pages (SERP), therefore increasing your organic reach.

    What you need to take note of is that the information on your business on other directories is the same as that on your GMB. This consistency will help with your rankings. 

    Ready to maximize local SEO?

    Over time Google has tweaked its search engine algorithm to reduce the organic reach of businesses so as to direct their attention to investing in ads. As a small business that has limited resources, investing in ads may seem like a long shot.

    If Google’s reducing your ability to organically reach your target audience, then what’s the next available option for you? Local SEO can give you the needed exposure to your target audience organically and at little or no cost.

    The good news is that applying the steps above will put you ahead of other local businesses scrambling for their customers’ attention on the most coveted first page of Google search.

    Now that you’ve got the tips how did you would you say you’ve fared with your local SEO?

    The post Maximizing local SEO: Five tactics to enhance visibility without breaking the bank appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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    Facebook, YouTube, Netflix and more get eye-tracking apps from Tobii

    May 20, 2020 No Comments

    Modern apps and services are a mixed bag when it comes to accessibility, and people with conditions that prevent them from using the usual smartphone or mouse and keyboard don’t often have good alternatives. Eye-tracking tech leader Tobii has engineered a solution with a set of popular apps that are built for navigation through gaze alone.

    Working with a third-party developer that specializes in accessibility development, the company’s new suite of apps includes: Facebook, FB Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google, Google Calendar, Google Translate, Netflix, Spotify, YouTube, MSN and Android Messages.

    These custom apps are for Tobii’s eye-tracking I-Series tablets or Windows PCs using Tobii peripherals and software.

    Previously, users would generally have to use the generic web interfaces for those services, or some kind of extra layer on top of the native apps. It can work, but the buttons and menus are generally not designed for use via eye tracking, and may be small or finicky.

    The new versions are still based on the web apps, but designed with gaze tracking in mind, with large, clear controls on one side and the app’s normal interface on the right. There are simple directional controls, of course, but also context and app-specific ones, like “genre” when browsing Netflix.

    The company highlights one user, Delaina Parrish (in the lead image), who relies on apps like Instagram to build her Fearless Independence brand but has been limited in how easily she could use them due to her cerebral palsy. “These accessible apps have improved my daily productivity, my channels of communicating personally and for business, and my overall independence,” she said in the Tobii press release.

    It’s hard to overestimate the difference between a tool or interface that’s “good enough” and able to be used by people with disabilities, and one that’s built with accessibility as a goal from the start. The new apps should be available on compatible devices now.

    Gadgets – TechCrunch

    Ecommerce and SEO: Past, present, and post COVID-19

    May 19, 2020 No Comments

    30-second summary:

    • Ecommerce is suddenly a reality for millions of businesses who may not have had online selling on their radar prior to COVID-19.
    • Consumers in most countries are cutting back on discretionary spending as optimism for economic recovery has fallen. Groceries, household supplies, personal care, and entertainment are among the categories in which consumers plan to maintain spending.
    • In this post, we’ll take a look at the current state and how businesses will need to adapt their ecommerce and SEO strategy to succeed post-COVID-19 (whatever that may end up looking like).

    As countries including the USA head into phased reopening, countless questions remain about the business landscape ahead. Will changes in consumer behaviour persist and if so, to what degree? Is there a second wave coming that will derail recovery efforts and send consumers back into lockdown? How can you plan for recovery when no one really knows quite what “recovery” means?  

    In the face of such uncertainty, one thing is for sure, companies need to get in position to gather and analyze data quickly—to be agile and respond to whatever twists and turns Coronavirus throws our way next. Regardless of industry or location, that responsive, adaptable strategy is going to rely heavily on ecommerce and SEO. 

    Ecommerce is suddenly a reality for millions of businesses who may not have had online selling on their radar prior to COVID-19. And while search optimization is a discipline as old as search engines themselves, dramatic differences in consumer behaviour may require an entirely new approach to SEO going forward. In this post, we’ll take a look at the current state and how businesses will need to adapt their ecommerce and SEO strategy to succeed post-COVID-19 (whatever that may end up looking like).

    Consumer behaviour and ecommerce: Present state 

    Fresh off of an unprecedented leap of $ 8.5 billion in U.S. CPG (in-store and online) sales during the first two weeks of March, conditions have quickly shifted once again. Panic buying gave way to record-high ecommerce sales in mid-March, after which we saw a week-over-week decline (-22%) in online sales between March 21-28. Overall, according to Nielsen, U.S. ecommerce sales right now are above the rates of one year ago. CPG, in particular, is soaring and up nearly 42% over the week ending April 4, 2019. 

    Consumers in most countries are cutting back on discretionary spending as optimism for economic recovery has fallen. Groceries, household supplies, personal care, and entertainment are among the categories in which consumers plan to maintain spending. As of April 19, 32% of US respondents to a McKinsey survey were anticipating a drop in their household income and over half expect the impact on their household finances to persist for four months or more. 

    Kantar/Google research shows even greater pessimism and pegs 71% of consumers in G7 countries as expecting their income will be impacted by Coronavirus. 

    Ecommerce and SEO COVID-19 times

    Source: Think With Google  

    Online and phone ordering with contactless delivery or curbside pickup has become the modus operandi for millions of businesses. 

    Businesses need to be able to listen closely to consumer fears, needs, and preferences as they evolve. Customers may not be comfortable heading straight back into crowded retail environments. Vacations closer to home may be preferred by many. Businesses will be challenged to understand the customer experience as it’s happening and to respond with optimizations in real-time to meet the individual’s needs.   

    In addition to this increased listening and awareness, consumers want to hear from the companies with whom they choose to do business. Even prior to COVID-19, 64% of consumers and 84% of business buyers expected companies to respond to them in real-time, according to Salesforce research. Right now, consumers are looking to brands for guidance and expertise in solving the challenges they are experiencing navigating the path to a new normal. The vast majority of consumers across sectors want to hear from brands just as often or even more than before the Coronavirus pandemic. 

    How SEO will drive ecommerce success as the coronavirus pandemic evolves 

    The relationship between ecommerce and SEO has become far more complex than how you optimize product listings for search.  

    But whether you’re ecommerce first, selling online as a sideline, or now enabling ordering and payment online with curbside or in-store pickup options, the insights gleaned from SEO will power more effective operations across the board. Here’s why: 

    SEO provides real-time insight

    BrightEdge (disclosure: a client company), back in 2019 surveyed a sample of over 200 digital marketers and found that over 86% of marketers stated the real-time research is critical to success. Furthermore, SEO insights are being used in all manner of digital marketing campaigns across paid search, video, email, and display. 

    BrightEdge stats on research

    Real-time search insights – especially now – enable us to tap into localized pockets of demand and appear in front of customers with rapidly evolving needs and intent. SEO insights, more than any other type of data, give us a clear line of sight into the voice of the customer through search queries, interactions with local search results, site analytics, and more. 

    SEO paves the way for both desktop and mobile experience

    Consumers may not be searching for restaurants during the commute home from the office right now, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of mobile-friendliness, especially when it comes to ecommerce. As Google itself says, when it comes to mobile marketing, “speed is table stakes.”

    Staying at home doesn’t necessarily mean switching to desktop, particularly where multiple family members may each be home and browsing on their own mobile device.  

    Consider switching to next-gen image formats like JPEG 2000 or WebP for mobile, with PNGs or JPEGs for desktop browsers. Look out for render-blocking resources, inefficient code, unused CSS and other page speed or site speed issues that may be hindering your performance. Use Google’s Test My Site as a starting point.  

    Search trends are key in staying on top of customer expectations

    Who was even thinking about curbside pickup this time last year? Today, it’s pretty much expected that if you are open for business, you’ll provide this fulfilment option for customers who are not comfortable entering your store (in some places, entering the store may still be prohibited by public health regulatory agencies). 

    Stats on curbside pickup for ecommerce and SEO

     Those businesses that caught onto the trend in early to mid-March were ahead of the groundswell in early April. Being among the first in your space to catch onto a massive change in consumer demand such as this can help you win over new business and better serve your existing customer base. Google Trends has a Coronavirus Trends resource business should be keeping an eye on. These are helpful insights for marketing but could influence operations, sales, and customer service, as well. 

    Search spans Google, Amazon, YouTube, and more

    Organic search commands the largest proportion of channel share, accounting for 53.5% of site traffic, on average. A comprehensive ecommerce SEO strategy accounts for Google, but other product search opportunities, as well. Amazon, for one, cut back its service to third-party sellers but as this comes back online, there may be opportunities to expand your ecommerce presence in the world’s largest marketplace. Check out this guide to improving rankings on Amazon to get you started. 

    Video search is another massive opportunity for companies now selling online, as Nielsen reports video streaming is up 100% in some markets due to Coronavirus. Even before lockdown, YouTube was both the world’s second-largest search engine and second-most visited website.  

    YouTube SEO takes into consideration factors ranging from watch time and keyword targeting to sentiment, engagement, channel authority and more. Learn more about optimizing this channel in SEW’s YouTube Optimization: Complete Guide.

    Post-COVID-19 SEO tips for ecommerce   

    Whether you’re an experienced online seller or just transitioning to ecommerce as a result of physical distancing, your customers may be entirely different from who they were even three months ago. A few tips to help you get in front of the right people with the right content: 

    • Revisit your adherence to ecommerce SEO best practices. You may need to renew your keyword research, update on-page optimizations to reflect changes in consumer behaviour, reorganize your site structure and optimize for the new customer journey, refresh and add new content (particularly around how you are responding to COVID-19-related issues such as food safety or package handling).

      Ensure that you are monitoring trends in real-time whilst planning for ease of lockdown restrictions, seasonal and product demand. For example, above we can see large demand for products related to how people now are investing in their dwellings, particularly, with spring here and summer coming, and in outdoor spaces, it is important to seize opportunities where demand is high and also plan for future trends and new normal(s).  
    • Optimize your ecommerce site for voice search. Make sure you’re positioned to trigger a response when consumers ask their voice assistant for a product like yours. If you are not yet familiar with speakable schema, there’s a good primer here to help you get ready for it. 
    • Automate SEO intelligently. Taking the legwork out of routine SEO tasks can make marketers more efficient, freeing up valuable time for more creative optimizations and strategy. Of course, intelligent automation can dramatically improve search performance, too, by recognizing and optimizing for opportunities in real-time.  
    • Consider your headless commerce and content options. Make your products and content even more accessible, removing barriers to conversion in the process, by incorporating headless commerce into your strategy. This is the process of separating the front and back ends of your ecommerce application so you can sell directly through social media, for example.   

    Most important of all is that you are set up to measure, analyze, and activate the mass of user signals consumers are sharing with you across search interactions and your ecommerce website. Whatever economic conditions and user preferences COVID-19 generates next, those businesses that are able to quickly understand and move on new opportunities will win the day.

    The post Ecommerce and SEO: Past, present, and post COVID-19 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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